Conclusions and the way forward

Industry is currently undergoing a technology-driven structural transformation with a sharp increase in demand for new digital solutions. The dynamic market is creating great opportunities that Swedish and international companies can take advantage of – so long as they have access to the right skills and are prepared to collaborate in new constellations.

Industry is interconnected: complex real-time data requires intelligent systems for analysis, and flexible automation systems are needed to meet customers’ requirements for customisation and short runs.
IndTech, meaning industrial technology, comes about when the installed base of automation and IT systems meets new digital technology. IndTech involves both the users in industry and the companies and institutions that develop, deliver and use industrial technology.

Sweden is doing well in global competition, but there are several risks and obstacles to continued development on companies’ radar. Major investments are required for Swedish industry to continue to be competitive with the help of high quality and innovative power.

During the Automation Summit conference with PiiA Inspiration on 6 October 2020, 500 representatives from companies, academia and authorities gathered to discuss how, working together, we can make industry smarter and more sustainable.

The event featured the issues being discussed and the areas that are being highlighted as most important for the continued development of Swedish industry.

How digitally mature is Swedish industry and how do we position ourselves globally?
Swedish industry is still performing well in global competition and Swedish companies have a good reputation when it comes to quality and innovation. Major investments are needed in order to continue to develop Swedish competitiveness and growth in industrial companies,

The installed base of automation and IT systems needs to be supplemented and strengthened with new digital technology. The technology itself does not present an obstacle, rather, the challenges in the transformation to a smart industry lie with the organisation’s ability to absorb and apply new digital technology. In order to be able to assimilate the value of new digital technology, a new mindset is required on basic issues such as competence, business models and new collaborative constellations.
Managing legacy and established power structures within both systems and organisation is a crucial issue in order to be able to utilise the potential that is hidden in data and domain competencies.

What are the most critical development areas for Swedish industrial companies?
The single most important development area for Swedish industry is access to relevant competences. All actors in society have an important role to play in this respect. Companies need to understand their needs first in order to be able to set the right requirements but also to build routines for competence development within their operations. Further staff training cannot be a side activity; it must take place continuously and with high quality. It must be considered an investment.

Aspects of the competence challenge that participants specially highlight concern the difficulty of recruiting internationally to compensate for the national skills gap. High rates of tax, tight regulations and excessive administration, as well as problems finding housing, are obstacles to attracting labour to Sweden.

Over the past decade, many companies have created processes and routines to eliminate waste and implement “Lean” in their operations. This leaves too little room for the slack that is needed to be able to develop new value-creating processes. A change from “Lean” to value innovation is required, which includes the entire value chain and new partners.

Films from the conference

The following videos from the conference are available in full-length versions: